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Pete Rose: An American Dilemma Hardcover – March 11, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Pete Rose hit the baseball safely 4,256 times in his major league career, more than any other man who played the game. But Rose is not in the baseball Hall of Fame. He was accused of betting on baseball and in 1989 agreed to banishment from the game. In 1991, the Hall of Fame formally agreed that anyone banned from baseball was also ineligible for the Hall. After years of maintaining his innocence, Rose finally admitted he’d bet on games while the manager of the Cincinnati Reds. Now he’s a sideshow at the annual HOF induction ceremony every year, selling autographs and, essentially, himself. Sports Illustrated editor Kennedy delves deeply into Rose’s life and the factors that contributed to his competitiveness and on-field success. He also looks into Rose’s personal life and continuing charisma, noting that gambling was always part of Rose’s life; he was a regular at horse tracks and never tried to hide his constant action on football and basketball. Kennedy isn’t campaigning for Rose’s induction into the Hall of Fame, but he does suggest that, in the post–performance enhancing drug era, perhaps the Rose situation should be reopened for discussion. This is a wonderful biography as well as a thoughtful examination of a moral quandary. --Wes Lukowsky


"Even readers who know who Mr. Rose is will learn much from...this book's stacked roster of interviews and anecdotes [and] fascinating and well-chosen tangents....Kennedy covers the [Big Red Machine] period expertly." --Craig Fehrman, The Wall Street Journal

"Will absorb you immediately...a fascinating study of one of America's most enduringly fascinating athletes. Masterful." --Mike Vaccaro, New York Post

"An exceptionally well-written book that lays out both sides of what remains a highly-charged issue." --Paul Hagen,

"Kennedy takes that familiar story and delves deeper, presenting an artful portrait....With writing of such quality and a subject of such complexity, it deserves to be read by anyone who appreciates good biography." --John C. Williams, BookPage

"Kennedy's book on the tarnished and enigmatic Rose is exceptional. Like the best writing about sport--Liebling, Angell--it qualifies as stirring literature. I'd read Kennedy no matter what he writes about." --Richard Ford

"Kostya Kennedy has given us the real Pete Rose at last. Perhaps Pete does not deserve him, but baseball fans and readers who appreciate superb and subtle writing will be grateful." --David Maraniss

"This is a wonderful, clearly written book about a dark and complicated tragedy that continues to beset the purity of our national pastime. The whole story is here: the deeply talented, passionate ball player, 'Charlie Hustle,' and the deeply morally challenged hustler who bestrides essential questions about our national game." --Ken Burns

"Pete Rose is too rich a character to fit on a bronze plaque. He requires a good, trenchant, poignant (ah, Petey) book, and this is it." --Roy Blount Jr.

"Better than any previous account. Kennedy leaves no doubt about Rose's greatness as a player or his guilt as a gambler." --Allen Barra, The Boston Globe

"A remarkable book about a fascinating, vexing figure." --Kirkus (starred review)

"Kennedy's ambitious account is an anecdote-rich read." --Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sports Illustrated (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1618930966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618930965
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kostya Kennedy, an Assistant Managing Editor at Sports Illustrated, writes on a wide range of subjects. Before joining SI, he was a staff writer at Newsday and contributed to The New York Times and The New Yorker. He earned an M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, from which he received a Pulitzer Fellowship. He has taught in the graduate journalism programs at Columbia and at N.Y.U. and has done frequent television and radio work. His New York Times best-selling book, 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports, won the 2011 Casey Award and was a finalist for the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He also edited Sports Illustrated's best-selling The Hockey Book.

Kennedy grew up on Long Island. Before Columbia, he graduated with honors as a philosophy major from Stony Brook University where he played exactly one game in the school's rogue bloodsport, pit hockey. Kennedy also used to play bass guitar in the specialty rock cover band Rychyrd Prychyrd (the specialty: The band played songs by Kiss and Lynyrd Skynyrd). He now lives with his wife and children in New York.

Customer Reviews

The book is a must read for baseball fans.
Samuel J. Sharp
Very well written, Kostya is a great story teller in addition to a great baseball writer.
M. Friedfel
Pete Rose, I believe, will be in the Hall of Fame someday.
Seeking Disciple

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on March 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Pete Rose is an icon, despite all that has happened to him over the years. A player more dedicated than talented he still reigns as the best there ever was. He is still the all time hits leader in MLB despite having been retired from the game for a quarter century. He was also a leader of men, providing the fiery energy needed for success on the Big Red Machine of the 1970s and the Phillies World Champion of 1980. At the same time he was a demon-haunted human being whose vices were just as overpowering as his virtues.

Kostya Kennedy tries to bring all of this into perspective in this new biography of one of baseball’s giants. We find out little new here, but it is well presented and convincingly argued. Yes, Rose had a lot of shady friends. Yes, he was an inveterate gambler, womanizer, all around jerk. Yes, he was a driven, single-minded performer on the sports stage. Yes, he broke rules, laws, and other conventions of society.

He also has the all-time Major League record for career base hits (4,256), games played (3,562), and at-bats (14,053). He has three World Champion rings, 1975 and 1976 with the Cincinnati Reds and 1980 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1973, took three batting titles (1968, 1969, and 1973), and was a 17-time all star.

In every way imaginable, Pete Rose is one of the greatest players ever, emphasis on “ever,” in Major League Baseball. Yet he is not in the Hall of Fame and has been banned from the game life. His experience is tragic, polarizing, and evergreen. The author expends considerable effort to come to grips with the question of whether or not Rose should be banned from baseball and prohibited from induction in the Hall of Fame. I admit that I’m all for it.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful By James L. Woolridge VINE VOICE on March 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was raised in Greater Cincinnati, and raised through the Rose period. I am a Pete Rose supporter. Think he should be in the Hall of Fame. He has paid his penalty. That said...PETE ROSE An American Dilemma by Kostya Kennedy is a very fine effort, a short history of Pete Rose that covers his life without dwelling at any phase too long. It is easy to read and filled with great insight. Like another reviewer said, I read the book in one day. Interesting. Rose indeed is a dilemma, controversial and usually sets off arguments. Read this book, get the facts, then argue better whatever side you are on. There are a lot of books out there on Rose, this is one of the better ones. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Barry Sparks VINE VOICE on March 9, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Author Kostya Kennedy writes that "perhaps the most polarizing and provocative question in sports is, 'Does Pete Rose belong in the Hall of Fame?'" He says Rose is a figure who stirs uncommon passion, righteousness and indignation.

It's been more than 25 years since Rose has been banned from baseball for betting on baseball. And, in 1991 a 10-person special Hall of Fame committee was established with the idea of keeping Rose out of the Hall of Fame. The committee, termed "a sham" by sportswriter Jack Lang, passed a resolution that "Persons on the ineligible list can't be eligible candidates for the Hall of Fame." The resolution was later passed into the Hall of Fame's by-laws. Rose, however, was the only player the by-law applied to.

There's no question about Rose's on-the-field baseball credentials: the all-time hits leader with 4,256, an All-Star at five positions, the epitome of hustle and how to play the game the right way and The Sporting News' Player of the Decade for the 1970s.

San Francisco sportswriter Wells Twombley wrote, "A player like Pete Rose only comes along once in a lifetime."

Rose's off-the-field activities of gambling and womanizing (neither one of which he tried to hide) didn't endear him to some teammates or baseball officials. Rose had only two commandments in baseball and life: be on time and play hard.

The sudden death of Pete's father, Harry, in 1970 of a heart attack had a profound effect on him. Kennedy writes, "Pete would never again feel the accountability the way he felt to his dad. With his dad gone, Pete didn't care who he might disappoint."
Pete's sister added, "If Dad were still alive, Pete wouldn't have drifted and fallen like he has.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By scesq VINE VOICE on May 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I grew up watching Pete Rose. I was never a big fan partly because of the fight he had with Bud Harrelson in the 1973 playoffs and later because of the allegations that he bet on baseball which he eventually admitted to, but I always respected him as a player. This book looks at Rose's career as well as the allegations about his gambling. It is a well written book that, while fair, made me think better of Rose.

Pete Rose is portrayed in this book as an overachiever who played hard and always supported the underdog as long as he was not on the other team. His baseball records speak for themselves.

As a young Mets fan Pete Rose's style of play was brought to life for me in game 3 of the 1973 National League Playoffs. As detailed in this book Rose came in hard at second base and slid into Mets shortstop Buddy Harrelson. As he popped up he elbowed Harrelson in the cheek and a brief fight ensued with Harrelson getting the worst of it. Other players joined in. After the fight broke up the Mets manager and four players had beg the upset fans to stop throwing from throwing things at rose in left field or th game would be forfeit despite the Mets leading 9-2 at the time.

Prior to that Rose also was known for a collision at home plate in the 1970 All-Star game injuring himself as well as catcher Ray Fosse who separated his shoulder and never was the same player.

In both instances Rose is viewed as someone who played hard and was not afraid to slide hard or barrel into a catcher which was viewed as standard play back then. He also would not hesitate to do or say something that would rally his team or distract the other team.
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